Did Plumbing Problems Cause Walmart to Lay Off 2,200 of Its Employees?

Hands of Plumber with a wrench.
Walmart makes an average profit of $1.8 million every minute. In 2012, its net sales were $466 billion, more than Argentina’s GDP. Walmart employs 2.2 million people, more than the population of Houston, and every day, about 2.35 million people shop at Walmart, as much as the population of Canada. The monolithic retail empire is so massive that about 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart. If it were a country, Walmart would be the 26th largest economy in the entire world.

How, then, could plumbing problems cause the retail behemoth to fire 2,200 people in a single day?

On April 13, Walmart temporarily closed five stores — two in Texas, and one each in California, Florida, and Oklahoma — for “extended repairs” that will take about six months to complete, and will solve the plumbing problems the retail goliath claims to have.

The stores shut promptly at 7 p.m. that Monday, only hours after management informed the employees that they’d be losing their jobs. All employees will be receiving paid time off for the first two months, during which time they can transfer to another Walmart location.

“Everybody just panicked and started crying,” Venanzi Luna, an employee at the California location, told CNN.

The thing was, though, few had even heard that the titanic retailer was even having plumbing problems.

“This is the first time we’re hearing of their sewer problems,” said Rene Bobadilla, city manager of Pico Rivera, California.
In Livingston, Texas, city officials were told that very day that the plumbing problems existed, and have been “ongoing and pervasive.”

Although it is possible that five separate stores in four different geophysical locations each had extensive plumbing problems requiring each store to be shut down for half a year, many suspect Walmart had ulterior motives in the closing of the Pico Rivera store, as workers were pressing for higher wages there.

“This is a new low, even for Walmart,” said Luna. “We know that Walmart is scared of all we have accomplished as members of OUR Walmart so they’re targeting us. It’s unfortunate that Walmart has chosen to hurt the lives of so many people, just to try to conceal their real motives of silencing workers just like they’ve always done.”

A Walmart spokesperson, however, said that the decision has nothing to do with anything other than the plumbing problems, saying, “We understand this decision has been difficult on our associates and our customers and we aim to reopen these stores as soon as these issues are resolved.”

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